Senate Resolution No. 779, which seeks a probe into the questionable P10.4-billion under the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) disbursed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development through the electronic wallet application Starpay, was filed Thursday on behalf of Sen. Manny Pacquiao.
Pacquiao, who is in the United States preparing for a boxing match in August, wants the appropriate Senate committee to inquire into and recover the missing funds under the SAP.
He cited the “urgent need to look into this anomaly to untangle the web of corruption involving DSWD and Starpay, which has robbed our people of economic resources and denuded the government of its basic capacity to provide a lifeline to the vulnerable sector of the society that has been hardest hit by the pandemic.”
Records show that 500,000 beneficiaries out of the total 1.8 million beneficiaries were able to download the Starpay application. The senator said this means that around 1.3 million projected beneficiaries were unable to download the said e-wallet application and failed to receive the P10.4 billion subsidy.
However, DSWD records showed that all of these payouts have already been completed, added Pacquiao.
Meanwhile, Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III on Thursday said their group in the ruling PDP-Laban will not weaken even as President Rodrigo Duterte will attend the “unauthorized” July 17 party meeting.
Pacquiao, the PDP-Laban acting president, and Pimentel had said they will skip the meeting, adding that the grassroots members and the “old guard” of the party tagged this as an unauthorized assembly.
Pimentel also shot back at Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque for saying that PDP-Laban’s membership would be reduced to “jeepney-size” if they remove President Duterte.
In a television interview, Pimentel, a PDP-Laban stalwart, said Roque once wanted to “hitch” on that jeepney.
Meanwhile, Speaker Lord Allan Velasco on Thursday vowed his “all-out and unconditional support” for Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio should she finally decide to run for president in the May 2022 national elections.
“I will support her (Duterte-Carpio) all the way,” Velasco said as he accompanied the lady mayor during her trip to Zamboanga City for the signing of the sister city agreement between Davao and Zamboanga, and to visit the survivors of the deadly C-130 military plane crash.
Also, convenors of opposition coalition 1Sambayan led by former Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio on Thursday said they are not discouraged by recent surveys showing President Duterte and the Davao City mayor leading because “these poll surveys are not reflective of the outcome of the 2022 national elections.”
Carpio, lead convenor of 1Sambayan, downplayed the recent Pulse Asia survey indicating that the Dutertes are leading the list of public preferences for president and vice president.
In a television interview, Pimentel said their faction has not been linked to Duterte, adding that they are inclusive to common members of the party not only to popular members, including the Chief Executive.
“Well, hindi naman kasi. I think the President has never been identified by our faction. Duterte has a word war with Pacquiao. Our point, if we are to organize the party, we have to make sure not to neglect the chapters. Let’s not focus on popular politicians,” said Pimentel over CNN Philippines.
Asked if Duterte proceeds to attend the meeting, Pimentel maintained that the July 17 meeting would still be unrecognized since the event is violative of their party’s constitution.
“There are rules to follow if the most popular person in the party to attend the meeting that we did not recognize, it does not change the fact that we do not recognize the meeting because compliance of the constitution did not change at all,” said Pimentel.
Further, Pimentel said if Duterte attends the meeting, it means he “follows the lead of Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi,” who is also the PDP-Laban vice chairman.
“That the President, President Duterte now follows the lead of Cusi as far as the party is concerned that would be the meaning of that,” he said.
Pimentel, likewise, said they will monitor the attendees of the “unsanctioned meetings” which he said were led by Cusi.